|New Mexico State Department
300 Don Gaspar
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786
Public Outreach Director
December 16, 2002
SDE Releases Results of Even
Start Family Literacy Initiative
(Santa Fe, NM)-The New Mexico State
Department of Education (SDE) announced today that 65 percent of
parents participating in the New Mexico Even Start Family Literacy
Initiative are better prepared to assist their children with developing
literacy readiness skills and 71 percent now use literacy readiness
activities with their children.
"The New Mexico family literacy initiative is offering families
in poverty the opportunity to improve their fundamental well being.
It is proving that we can help to reverse the cycle of low achievement
that can impact families for generations," said State Superintendent
of Public Instruction Michael J. Davis.
The Legislature provided $2 million in funding for fiscal year
2002 to implement family literacy services to address the needs
of at-risk families. The program, implemented in 14 public school
districts, focuses on improving literacy skills for preschool children
and their parents.
Services are provided at program sites and in homes, with parents
averaging 10 hours of participation each week. Four essential components
are integrated into the program:
- Early childhood education to increase the developmental skills
of preschool children and better prepare them for academic success
- Parenting education so parents can learn how to be the primary
teacher for their child and full partners in their child's education
- Parent and child literacy time so that parents practice with
a role model how to conduct parent and child literacy time together
- Adult education to help parents gain the motivation, skills
and knowledge needed to become employed or to pursue further education
In all, 5,675 family members are being served at 33 sites at a
cost of $352 per family member. Qualified families meet three of
five risk factors pertinent to a child's early literacy success
in school: single parent, welfare recipient, unemployed and out
of school, teenage parent with a preschool-age child and lacking
a high school diploma.
Forty-seven percent of participants are Native American, 37 percent
are Hispanic and 14 percent are Anglo, followed by .05 percent Asian,
.05 percent Black and 1 percent "other." Families average
five members in the immediate household, including older and younger
siblings and grandparents.
As a result of the program, 65 percent of parents:
Among the literacy readiness activities being used by 71 percent of
parents are repeating nursery rhymes or singing songs, recognizing
colors and shapes, writing a name, counting things and recognizing
letters and numbers.
- Provide reading and writing materials in the home.
- Use more oral language in the home with familiar activities.
- Spend increased time talking with their children, building language.
- Serve as a role model in regular use of reading and writing.
- Understand how to use effective coping strategies to ensure
good physical and mental health for both parent and child.
More than 25 percent of New Mexico's families live in poverty,
including, in 2000, 508,574 children, according to the 2002 New
Mexico Kids Count Data Book published by New Mexico Voices for
Children. In addition, 54 percent of families in 2002 headed by
a single mother with children under the age of five were poor.
"With funding of $3 million each year for the next five years,
the New Mexico family literacy initiative could reach more than
two-thirds of all families living in poverty," said Georgene
Zaydell, the SDE's Even Start program consultant.
Participating districts are: Albuquerque, Bernalillo, Bloomfield,
Central Consolidated, Farmington, Gallup, Las Cruces, Los Lunas,
Lovington, Magdalena, Mountainair, Taos, Wagon Mound and West Las